God taught me the following one year while I was preparing to teach church groups on “Yeshua in Passover”. I'm a Christian, with Jewish heritage. In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), whenever a messenger from heaven came to earth, the first thing the humans would try to do was to volunteer to wash their feet (Genesis 18.4). This act is like saying “I honour you because you are Holy, you are from Heaven”.
Why washing the feet?
- Because God told us through Moses, “Take off your sandals for you are on Holy Ground.” (Exodus 3.5)
- Because a contractual sign of redeeming a person in the Hebrew Scriptures was taking off one’s sandal and giving it to the other. (Ruth 4.8)
- Because Ruth, having been married to a Jewish man, knew this so this is why she slept at Boaz’s feet. She was asking in that act "Will you redeem me?”
- Because, if a family didn’t do this act of holy honour and care for a woman, they were called by the elders and community of Israel “the family of the unsandaled” (Deuteronomy 25.10). This was a term of great dishonour, because they had rejected someone of whom they should have taken care. Can a religious congregation be given the title of “the family of the unsandaled” by the LORD? I sadly believe it is sometimes so. Can a nation be given this title, in how it treats God's treasured possession, the Jewish people? If it can, I wouldn't want to live in it.
- Because, when the prodigal son returned, the Father put sandals on his feet. (Luke 15.22) This is a Hebraic sign, a Jewish act, of the Father redeeming one who was lost.
- Because when Yeshua gave His early Passover (Pesach), He did a strange thing. In the Passover there is only a section to wash our hands (called Rachtzah). But when Yeshua got to this point, He instead washed the disciples feet! This was because He was showing them that He was redeeming the lost, making them His Beloved, making them holy and seeing them as future citizens of Heaven; all that "feet" represent in the Old Testament/Tanakh. That is why Peter/Kefa, as a Jew, said “Do not wash my feet” meaning: “Don’t treat me as heavenly because I’m not.” It is why Peter/Kefa said, “Then wash my hands as well” ie: do what you SHOULD do in this part of the Passover. And it is why Yeshua said “Unless I wash your feet you have no part in Me” i.e.: “Unless I redeem you from your 'lostness', unless I make you holy and unless I see you as a citizen of heaven, you have no part in Me.” No wonder He said to Peter/Kefa, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." (John 13.7)
- Because God uses the passage of the sinful woman anointing Yeshua’s feet to prophesy who Jesus/Yeshua was. She could see He was from Heaven, so she washed His feet, just like her Jewish Old Testament ancestors did to the LORD when He visited Abraham (Genesis 18).
- The clue, that she was seeing her beloved Messiah, is she used spikenard. The only other place in Scripture where spikenard is used is in the Song of Songs; the poetry Biblical book symbolising Messiah and His beloved. It was an act of passionate love and marital preparation. Far from acting like a prostitute, as a Jew, she was treating Jesus/Yeshua as her Beloved and her Betrothed. This was a Biblically-sound move according to Hebrew Scriptures on her part, which, as a Jewish woman, she would have known. In the Jewish betrothal the man is the one who sets out how he is going to look after his bride-to-be (in a Ketubah). The woman doesn't. It's the incredibly masculine act of protecting and taking care of her. She, the sinful woman, could see who He was and yet endured rejection from others for it. They were so focused on her social label that they missed the entire Heavenly message. But she didn't care. She could see who her groom-to-be was and focused her mind and actions on Him alone. Smart! Smart to spend a year's wages on the spikenard but gain an eternity of protection, provision and love with Her Groom-King.
All this Jewish Hebraic symbolism from the Old Testament adds new meaning to the New Testament phrase: “Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace". This is what the LORD Jesus/Yeshua means when He says, “Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13.14)
He is saying as a Jew, "I am redeeming you from your 'lostness', I am treating you with honour, you are, through Me, becoming my family, I am treating you as a citizen of heaven, I am treating you as holy". This is because of what "feet" mean, when He shows us through His prophetic and Hebraic mind, through the Holy Spirit.